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Area Agency
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Community & Economic



Staff Directory

Alan Toney, Community & Economic Development Director

(828) 351-2331

Alan Toney was born and raised in Rutherford County and has spent his entire life in WNC. He joined the Foothills Regional Commission in July 2022 as the RPO Director and has since become the Community & Economic Development Director. As the director, he oversees the overall operations of the department, including managing the budget and specific projects. In addition to assisting local governments with their needs, Alan works closely with Federal and State funding partners including, but not limited to, EDA, ARC, and NCDOT.

He previously worked at the City of Shelby as the Senior Planner, at the Town of Spindale, at Rutherford County working on special projects, and at Appalachian State University as a Graduate Assistant studying how the built environment impacts transportation decisions. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Gardner-Webb University and a master’s degree from Appalachian State University.

Alan enjoys spending time with his wife and family, traveling to places such as Spain, Yellowstone, and Japan, and spending time outdoors. He is passionate about working on the family farm, learning history, and building a better home for future generations.

Charlotte Sullivan, Finance Director

(828) 351-2335

Charlotte Sullivan is a native and lifelong resident of Polk County, growing up in the Fork Creek area of Saluda. She has a BS in business management and a MSM in management.

 Charlotte began her career in public service working as the treasurer for the City of Saluda in 1989. She continued in local government, working for Polk County beginning in 1993 as finance director. In 1999, she transitioned to school finance, working as finance director for Polk County Schools, a position she later held with the Asheville City School system. In 2019, Charlotte began working for the Land of Sky Regional Council in Asheville as finance director.  Charlotte was also a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club of Tryon, where she served as treasurer and secretary. She is now the finance director for Foothills Regional Commission in Rutherfordton. 

 Charlotte has a deep appreciation for the land, resources, and natural beauty of our area. Her grandparents owned a farm where she spent much of her youth, and when she wasn’t there she could often be found at the Pacolet River. Today, Charlotte lives in Saluda with her husband Dan and their two dogs.

Jerry Stensland, Project Manager

(828) 351-2338

Jerry came on board at FRC in January 2020 as a Project Manager. His current projects include: A Safe Routes to School program; managing trail counters on multiple trail systems; parks, recreation & trails planning and grant projects; and assisting with the work of the Foothills RPO.

Prior to FRC, Jerry was the Parks & Recreation Director in Polk County for six years and as a planner and project manager for Rutherford County for five years. In the past, he also worked as a local newspaper journalist in both North Carolina and Arkansas, and as a grants accountant at the University of Michigan. Jerry has a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa. He grew up in Sioux City, Iowa.

In his free time, Jerry and his wife Carole love to be outdoors as much as possible including hiking, camping, paddling, running, and bird watching. They live on conservation land in the Green Hill community. He is the co-founder and current board president of the Rutherford Outdoor Coalition. He also serves on multiple boards including the Foothills Conservancy, Chimney Rock State Park Advisory Committee, and the Rutherford County Trails Collaborative.

Jordan Barnes, Grants Manager

(828) 289-5126

Jordan is a native of Rutherford County and graduate a of R-S Central High School. After graduating high school Jordan attended UNC-Charlotte where he graduated with a degree in Political Science. Jordan started his career in banking working as a personal banker learning personal and commercial banking. In 2017, Jordan left the private sector to join Senator Thom Tillis’ North Carolina staff as a Regional Representative here in Western NC. After building a strong public and private sector portfolio of business leaders, local, state, and federal stakeholders, Jordan brought his network of professionals to FRC in December of 2022 to continue to serve local government through economic development opportunities.

Benjamin Bordeaux, Program Manager

(828) 447-1367

A graduate of Appalachian State University, Ben has previously worked for the Unites States Census Bureau, Buncombe County Election Services, and Buncombe County Health and Human Services. In his free time he enjoys hiking, board games, and reading about history.

Penny Martinez, Housing Planner

(828) 289-5672 Ext. 244

Penny Martinez joined FRC’s Community & Economic Development team in March 2023 as the Housing Planner. She has a background working in public service within public health for 10 years as a Health Educator, Supervisor, Grant writer, and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, and 25 years of teaching high school science and math in Virginia and North Carolina. She has served on many non-profit boards for community agencies and authored a teen peer mentoring program for at-risk adolescents and a Health Education App that is published for Edupad.

As the Housing Planner for FRC, she will spend the majority of her time on the new HUD HOME program to bring affordable housing options to the region and will provide outreach and education on this program to local county, city, and town managers as well as community partners. Other duties will include: working on a housing study for the region, grant writing, assisting with Section 8 and Housing Choice Voucher programs, and disaster recovery programs.

In her free time, her hobbies include golf, tennis, pickle ball, skiing and snowshoeing. She is a proponent of Organ & Tissue Donation and ALS research for a cure!

Jack Elliott, Program Manager

(828) 429-6812

Jack Elliott was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a program manager, he works to expand broadband initiatives to Cleveland, McDowell, Rutherford, and Polk counties and provide technical services such as web development and database administration to local governments.

Jack has previously worked in software development at SSI Schäfer and NTT Data. He graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science from Appalachian State University. Jack currently serves on the Rutherford County Library Board, and he joined Foothills Regional Commission in September of 2023.

In his free time, Jack enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the community and being outside.

Magnolia Long, Senior Planner

(828) 289-5126

Magnolia Long is a native of Brevard, NC. She attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she graduated with disciplinary honors and a degree in Political Science. Magnolia began her public service career as a Lead for North Carolina Fellow working for the Town of Rutherfordton. After her fellowship, she became the Community Development Director for the Town of  Rutherfordton, where she established the Rutherfordton Redevelopment Commission and created a comprehensive housing plan to increase the quality and quantity of housing stock within the Town’s Urban Redevelopment Area. She joined the Foothills Regional Commission in November 2023 as the Senior Planner and RPO Director. Magnolia is also pursuing a Masters’ degree in Public Administration at UNCG.  

Magnolia has a heart for public service and community development. She is passionate about food access, equitable development, and connecting communities together. Magnolia is a co-founder of Ruff’ton Roots Community Garden, a volunteer firefighter for Rutherfordton Fire & Rescue, an ambassador for the NC, SC, & GA Area Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and serves on the local KidSenses board. In her free time, Magnolia loves to spend time with her fiancé and two bonus-daughters, complete DIY projects in her home, spoil all 10 of her animals, and support local businesses.